[ By STEVE CARPENTER ]
[ BLUE DRAGON SPORTS INFORMATION ]
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The No. 16 Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team had one of its most-balanced offensive games this season with four players scoring 19 points or better on Wednesday.
The Blue Dragons earned a needed victory to keep pace with Barton and Coffeyville in the Jayhawk Conference and to sweep the season series with Garden City, defeating the Broncbusters 92-82 at the Sports Arena.
The Blue Dragons secured their 52nd 20-win season by improving to 20-4 overall and 16-4 in the Jayhawk Conference. Hutchison maintains its second-place tie with Coffeyville, just one game behind Barton in the league standings. Both the Cougars and Red Ravens won on Wednesday. Garden City falls to 15-9 overall and 11-9 in league play.
Hutchinson defeated Garden City for the 10th-striaght time for the 15th time in the last 16 games.
Those four players helped offset the 30-point night of Garden City’s Kendale Hampton, who hit 7 of 14 from 3-point range.
With a first half that had seven lead changes and seven ties, the Blue Dragons led 39-37 at halftime. Hutch started the second half with an 8-0 run over the first 1 minute, 57 seconds of the second half to take charge. The Busters got the lead down to six with 16:01 to go, but the Blue Dragons answered every challenge shooting 53.3 percent in the second half making 20 of 26 from the foul line in the final 20 minutes.
Rhymes had 12 of his team-high 21 points in the second half. He was 9 of 18 from the floor and 3 of 5 from the foul line.
Bandoo hit 6 of 9 shots, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 from the foul line. Bandoo added six rebounds and four assists.
Hollis established a new career high with 19 points on 6 of 8 shooting and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. The seven free throws and his eight rebounds were also career highs.
Rojas had 19 points and nine rebounds on 6 of 8 shooting and 7 of 8 from the foul line.
Hutchinson finished shooting 47.6 percent (30 of 63), hitting 3 of 5 from 3-point range and 29 of 38 from the foul line. The Dragons out-rebounded Garden City 45-34 and had only 10 turnovers.
The Busters shot 42.2 percent (27 of 64), hitting 14 of 34 from 3-point range and 14 of 22 from the free-throw line.
Neither team had more than a five-point lead in the first half. A Rhymes’ jumper with 8:10 to play gave the Dragons a 24-19 lead. Garden City tied the game at 28 on an Elvis Harvey layup with 4:14 to play. The Dragons answered that challenge with a Bandoo 3-pointer on the next possession and regained a five-point lead with a Hollis jumper at the 3:27 mark to make it 33-28.
Garden City was able to whittle Hutch lead to two points when Hampton hit a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left in the have and the Blue Dragons led 33-31 at intermission.
The Dragons started fast and capped a 9-0 run in the first 1:57 of the second half with a Bandoo dunk to take a 47-37 lead. But Garden City kept within striking distance by hitting nine 3-pointers in the second half. A Harvey trey with 16:01 to play trimmed the Hutch lead to 49-43. A Theo Holliday 3-pointer made it 53-47, but Bandoo struck away from 3-point range to give the Dragons a 56-46 lead with 14:15 to go.
Leading 56-48, the Dragons used an 8-1 run to provide some distance. Rhymes scored in transition to give the Dragons a 64-49 lead with 10:54 to go. Hutch built its largest lead of 16 when Hollis hit a contested jumper with the shot clock running out for a 69-53 lead with 8:03 to go.
Hutchinson took care of business down the stretch despite Garden City hitting a couple of late 3-pointers. Hutchinson outscored Garden City 53-45 in the second half.
The Blue Dragons play host to Butler at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Sports Arena.